In some ways, Commercial Bank websites aren’t all that different from Tech industry Consumer sites. Both sets are built to market a wide variety of offerings, and they must do so while addressing a diverse group of audiences with varying degrees of technical knowledge.
The primary difference, of course, is that Consumer tech sites sell tangible products, while Commercial Bank offerings are more intangible. Still, both sets of sites must conquer many of the same challenges, including making content and features easy to find, providing resources and features that are easy to use, and ensuring that resources and features are useful for visitors.
On the other hand, both sets of sites are exempt from providing certain information due to the structure of their business models. Unlike tech sites, Commercial Bank sites don’t provide corporate blogs or industry marketing, channel/partner marketing, or training information. Commercial Bank sites also receive a dispensation from providing event, product marketing, community, and support information as well as eCommerce features because none of these areas directly relate to the way they do business.
In theory, these exemptions should make it easier for Commercial Banks to overcome the challenges they face. Recent Usability Index evaluations reveal, however, that this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, our IT Consumer segment results clearly show that sites in that segment aren’t nearly as easy to use as they should be.
Of course, this leads us to wonder whether the same will hold true for sites in the Commercial Bank sector…
To assess the usability and effectiveness of prominent Commercial Bank sites, the siteIQ team conducts Usability Index evaluations using the Commercial Bank version of the siteIQ Best Practices Usability benchmark. This benchmark includes 177 questions across four major categories and nine distinct sub-categories.
These questions measure the overall practicality, versatility, and convenience of any given website. A second review recategorizes the 177 questions into 16 unique Usability Dimensions that illustrate how sufficiently each website allows users to achieve everyday tasks, objectives, and goals.
The results of these evaluations allow the team to rank and rate each site based on category — and sub-category scores — and to determine the winner overall. This case study announces key findings for the Commercial Bank industry segment based on Website Usability and Website Usability by Dimension scores.
The websites evaluated in this segment include: 53.com, BankofAmerica.com, BBT.com, BNYMellon.com, Citigroup.com, GoldmanSachs.com, JPMorganChase.com, Key.com, MorganStanley.com, NorthernTrust.com, Regions.com, StateStreet.com, SunTrust.com, USBank.com, and WellsFargo.com.
According to the evaluator’s notes, “Commercial Bank websites are so similar they look like they all copied off each other’s paper,” and one look at Overall Website Usability scores shows that this just might be the case. A review of overall scoring reveals that BankofAmerica.com wins the Commercial Bank segment by a margin of only 0.6%, while a mere 0.1% is all that separates BNYMellon.com, WellsFargo.com, and SunTrust.com, which rank second, third, and fourth respectively.
And, the slim margins don’t end there. Further review shows that the gap separating each of the Top 10 ranking Commercial Bank sites is less than 1%, which means user experiences are incredibly similar across each of these venues.
This close proximity in scoring also means that each of the Top 10 ranking Commercial Bank sites receives the same Competitive Rating — Average. Unfortunately, this is a clear indication that none include any trendsetting options or features that create new conventions or competitive requirements. Rather, these sites are merely adequate for visitors.
This is further substantiated by the meager number of Good Practice ratings that Commercial Bank sites earn based on individual Sub-Category and Usability Dimension scores. Not to mention the fact that the bulk of Good Practices achieved are in areas that are peripheral to the most critical user objectives and goals.
On a positive note, more than a handful of sites come close to garnering Good Practice status in the Sub-Categories and Dimensions that matter most to crucial visitor processes. So, some minor improvements would dramatically increase the number of Good Practice ratings that Commercial Bank sites earn. Of course, it follows that those improvements would also boost usability and effectiveness in important site areas — and make each website better overall.
On the other hand, sites that fall to the bottom of the Commercial Bank rankings have quite a bit of work to do before they come close to matching the performance of top-ranking sites — let alone reaching Good Practice levels. This is especially true JPMorganChase.com, which despite being the public face for the largest bank in the United States (and the sixth-largest bank in the world according to S&P Global), ranks dead last among the fifteen Commercial Bank websites we track.
So, whether they rise to the top — or fall to the bottom — of the overall rankings, there’s room for improvement on every Commercial Bank site we track. Only time will tell, however, if any changes are actually made. Until then, Commercial Bank users are left with sites that seem unimaginative, cumbersome to navigate, thin on content, and arduous to use.
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About the siteIQ Usability Index
siteIQ evaluated the thirty Financial Websites listed on the 2020 siteIQ Usability Index. These Websites are categorized into three industry-specific segments including:
- Commercial Banks (53.com, BankofAmerica.com, BBT.com, BNYMellon.com, Citigroup.com, GoldmanSachs.com, JPMorganChase.com, Key.com, MorganStanley.com, NorthernTrust.com, Regions.com, StateStreet.com, SunTrust.com, USBank.com, WellsFargo.com)
- Diversified Financials (AJG.com, Ally.com, Ameriprise.com, Blackstone.com, FannieMae.com, FreddieMac.com, INTLFCStone.com, Jefferies.com, Synchrony.com, Voya.com)
- Securities (EdwardJones.com, FranklinResources.com, IntercontinentalExchange.com, KKR.com, Schwab.com)
These in-depth evaluations were conducted using the 2020 edition of the siteIQ Usability Index Best Practices Benchmark, which tracks results in 9 sub-categories and 16 Usability Dimensions.
The 2020 evaluations were performed during the first quarter of 2020.
Category: Index Rankings
Class: Website Reviews and Rankings
Websites Profiled: siteIQ Usability Index Websites – Finance Industry